West Indies v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Trinidad, 3rd day April 5, 2008

'New ball crucial' - Samaraweera

Cricinfo staff

Thilan Samaraweera's 125 has left the Test intriguingly poised © AFP

Thilan Samaraweera, whose century rescued Sri Lanka from a dicey 99 for 6, said the key to securing a win in the second Test at the Queen's Park Oval would be how the visitors utilise the new ball.

"The pitch is still allowing the bowlers to seam the ball around, and the bounce is up and down," he said. "If we can get two or three wickets with the new ball, we can put some pressure on them, since we have a world-class spin bowler (in Muttiah Muralitharan). Chris Gayle was getting the ball to turn a little bit, but the new ball will be the key."

Samaraweera's 138-run partnership with Chaminda Vaas for the seventh wicket left West Indies chasing a challenging 253 for victory. "My approach when I went in to bat was to play as straight as possible," he said. "I played a bad shot in the first innings - a 'nothing shot' - and found playing straight and playing off the front foot was the key.

"My strategy was to bat through the innings, but I think Chaminda (45) helped a lot since he was batting so well at the other end. When I came to the crease, we were 32 for 3 and I felt that we could still get a good score since Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, and Vaas were still to come."

Besides shoring up Sri Lanka's fortunes, his sixth Test century is also likely to guarantee him an extended run in the side. "This innings is important for me, since there is a lot of Test cricket coming for us this year - we have about six Tests remaining - and I feel strongly that I can establish myself in the side again," he said. "I have a key role to play in the side. I have to play among a host of stroke-players, and I can play the long, patient innings which I did a few years ago when we were in a similar situation and I scored a hundred against Pakistan.

"I also thought this innings was crucial because I had set myself the goal in this series to take the pressure off Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, since they have been tremendous for Sri Lanka over the last three or four years."

Looking ahead to the fourth day's play, and a possible series win, he said: "We want to create history by becoming the first Sri Lanka team to win a Test series in the Caribbean, and whitewash West Indies in a series at home for the first time in their history."